Apr 10, 2021 Last Updated 4:12 AM, Apr 8, 2021

PCN outlines inquiry

AN internal investigation is underway to establish whether homes in the Lagilagi Eastate in Fiji’s capital were given to the poor, disabled and elderly. Peoples Concern Network Director, Semiti Qalowasa, confirmed he had received complaints about people occupying the homes although they did not meet the residency criteria. “(The homes) should be given to those consistent saving member inside and outside of Jittu.

According to the (PCN) housing team the first opportunity is given to those we have to relocate so that Lagilagi Housing could take place,” Qalowasa said. He said criteria for a home at Lagilagli was that people must be:

1. Residents of squatter settlements and poor peri-urban areas for six years

2. Have consistent savings

3. Paid less than $FJD16,500 per annum

4. Have no property elsewhere. Qalowasa claimed that PCN records showed that all 120 living in PCN flats met the criteria.

“But we are continuing to investigate allegations to see if some don’t fit in,” Qalowasa said. “When these allegations arose, I put together a team comprising (residents) in the new housing unit - Walosio Tolevu, Epeli a police special constable and the Methodist vakatawa (catechist).

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What is Lagilagi Estate?

LAGILAGI (Fijian for Glorious) is a portion land in what was once the Jittu Estate in Fiji’s capital, Suva. In the late 1960s and early 1970s it was the largest squatter settlement in Fiji, housing families from outer islands who had moved to Suva for employment or to support children attending school.

With no roads, electricity or piped water, the community of wood and tin shacks became a hive of criminal activity and home to the more notorious criminal elements. In the 1990s a road was built through the estate, electricity and piped water was provided criminal activity dwindled.

On a section of land at Jittu Estate, the Peoples Community Network has obtained a 99-year lease to build 152 housing units, a community hall, kindergarten and playing field. The project started with funding from the German Catholic agency Misereor which later pulled out and the Ministry for Housing. It is estimated that the project will cost $FJD8.7m.

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Stuck in the slum

Corruption investigation into NGO activities

WHEN Fijian Prime Minister, RearAdmiral Frank Bainimarama, handed out keys to the residents of Lagilagi Housing Estate in November 2013, he was giving homes to the disabled, needy and the elderly. Or so he thought. Investigations have shown that of the 120 families which occupy flats in the model housing subdivision in Fiji’s capital, at least 20 do not qualify for the homes.

Now the Fiji Independent Commission against Corruption has opened a file to investigate the finances and affairs of the Peoples Community Network which was originally formed in 2009. At the heart of the investigation are allegations of nepotism, corruption and misappropriation of members’ funds. Documents obtained by Islands Business show that of the 16 staff members of PCN, 10 are related to the organisation’s director, Semiti Qalowasa. Among them are four nieces, an uncle, cousin, sister-in-law and brother-inlaw.

When PCN was formed in 2009 after it broke away from the Economic and Social Justice Programme of the Ecumenical Centre for Research, Education and Advocacy (ECREA), there were already allegations of misappropriation. Qalowasa was forced to quit ECREA after he used programme funds to build a road for his wife’s community in Wailoku.

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No pain, no gain for Hayne

Hard yards to go ahead of Rio for Fijian code hopper

THE barrage of negative publicity when Jarryd Hayne chose to join the Fiji team for the London leg of the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series was not a surprise. Among the most venomous critics of Australian sportspeople are their media and sportspeople themselves. The negative publicity started immediately with claims that Hayne would not qualify because of a limited standdown window, the need for special drug tests, and his inability to transition to a new code.

Perhaps the most cruel blow of all was that Hayne did not qualify for the Fijian side because he was an Australian. Hayne’s father, Manoa Thompson, moved to Australia aged 11 and played for South Sydney (Rabbitohs) and Auckland (Warriors) at various stages of what is now the National Rugby League. Manoa was adopted by Ana Waqanibaravi Thompson, sister to his birth mother, Elenoa Tokalautawa, who died when he was young.

The hard-hitting centre who represented Fiji in 1996 told the Daily Telegraph his son would prove critics wrong. “Keep bagging my boy and you will have egg on your face,” he said.

“They wrote Jarryd off when he went to the NFL. And he made it. They wrote him after he was (NRL) rookie of the year as well.

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MSG

THE Melanesian Spearhead Group is headquartered in Port Vila, Vanuatu in a two storey building that was built and gifted to the MSG by the Government of China. It was founded from an informal meeting of leaders of Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu and a representative of the pro-independence movement of the indigenous Kanaks of New Caledonia, the FLNKS that was held in Goroka, Papua New Guinea on 17 July, 1986.

Formalisation of the MSG happened two years later when on 14 March 1988, Prime Minister Paias Wingti of Papua New Guinea, Prime Minister Father Walter Lini of Vanuatu and Foreign Affairs Minister of Solomon Islands Ezekiel Alebua signed the six point Agreed Principles of Cooperation Among the Independent States of Melanesia in Port Vila, capital of Vanuatu.

The FLNKS formally joined in 1989 and Fiji in 1996. One of its primary objectives was to provide support for the political aspirations of the indigenous people in Melanesia. Today, its core objectives has widened to encompass economic development, trade, regional security, culture and sports and climate change. Its Leaders Summit is held every two years, and the host of the summit becomes chair of the MSG until the next summit.

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